Here Comes Truffle

by Steven Behling


Readers of NOSHology may remember my friend and professional colleague Lisa, first mentioned in an entry capturing the most wonderful dinner party held near the end of this past summer.  Her home is now decked out beautifully and elegantly for the holidays, and I didn't hesitate to take my dear friend up on her offer make chocolate truffles together.  Before my arrival this morning, she had already melted 12 ounces of chocolate into 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream several times over, refrigerating the ganache until ready to scoop onto parchment paper, re-refrigerated, and ready to roll.  Although most of the ganache was pure chocolate, one batch was infused with finely chopped candied ginger, another pistachio extract, and yet another Frangelico hazelnut liqueur.

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Seasoned trufflers might not be as surprised as I was by the intoxicating scent of chocolate wafting through the air as my body temperature warmed and softened the truffles as we rolled them between our hands to form rustic spheres of delight. 

Once rolled, the truffles were dropped in a variety of toppings, including chopped pistachios and pecans, roasted cacao beans, powdered cocoa, and melted chocolate topped with a square of candied ginger.  Of note, those little corn on the cob holders are perfect for picking up truffles and dipping them in melted chocolate.

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Once the truffles had been lovingly placed in their individual paper cups, Lisa boxed up a collection and I tied them up in a bow.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Follow that with a lovely performance of "Silent Night" with Lisa on piano and her daughter Analiese on cello and there was absolutely no doubt that the very best of the holiday season had begun.  Happy Holidays!

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A Sucker for the Holidays

by Steven Behling


One of my best childhood memories of the Christmas season was when my sisters and I would help our parents rub oil on the inside of metal molds, insert paper sticks, and set them on an aluminum cookie sheet placed on top of several inches of snow in the backyard.  Returning to the toasty warm kitchen, we stirred together sugar, Karo Syrup, and water in a saucepan, stirred until boiling, clipped a candy thermometer on the side of the pan, and watched as the temperature climbed.  When it hit soft crack stage, we'd carefully drop food coloring onto the bubbling surface and watch the holly red, starlight yellow, or wintry green spread throughout the syrup.  

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Once the thermometer hit 300° F, we'd quickly whisk it off the burner, stir in flavoring oil with the wooden spoon (which also doubled as a spanking utensil), and take the pan outside to pour the scalding solution into the molds, steam rising and the overpowering scent of spicy cinnamon, fragrant clove, or bracing peppermint filling our lungs.  

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Once cooled, we would remove the clip at the base of each mold and it would (sometimes) spring away from the finished product.  Wrapped in individual bags and closed with a twist tie, we would give handfuls to neighbors and dear friends to celebrate the season.     

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During the tail end of graduate school, I re-ignited this family tradition in snow-exempt Southern California, sadly watching the lollipops cool slowly on the kitchen counter as the thermometer outside hit 80 degrees.  The cinnamon, clove, and peppermint flavors of my childhood seemed out of place in such balmy conditions, so I went with options like peach, grape, and root beer.  Nevertheless, using my father's handwritten recipe below still captured some of that Christmas magic.

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Today I make around six batches or so for my clients and their families, and I must say that the response I get from these is fantastic.  

"Ooh!  They're so lovely."

"Did you really make these yourself?"

"It's like stained glass!"

Either folks really do like them, or they have such a mediocre expectation of my ability to produce something delicious in the kitchen that they are knocked off their feet by these little suckers (pun intended).  Regardless, if you're feeling so inclined to recreate this tradition in your kitchen, I get my lollipop molds and oils during trips to my favorite kitchen and restaurant supply shop in the Salt Lake Valley, Orson Gygi.  You can visit their online store to pick up Sweet Creations Lollipop Molds and LorAnn Oils, lollipop sticks and bags.  I now use a little bit of jute to tie a bow at the bottom of mine, but you could use yarn or metallic twist ties as well.

See you later, suckers!